The signs were all there – the media speculation, the announcements of several NDP cabinet ministers saying they weren’t going to run again (even though the pre-determined election date isn’t until next October) and the newly crowned provincial Green leader pleading, demanding that Premier John Horgan should put the province ahead of the party and not call a snap election.
But, alas, Horgan did it anyway.
Horgan says we’re going to the polls Oct. 24 to provide stability, even though there’s been little instability with the coalition agreement between the Greens and the NDP that was signed to carry us until next year’s election and Green Party leader Sonia Furstentau pledging ongoing support.
He also said we are going to the polls during a pandemic because we would still be going to the polls during a pandemic next October anyway, according to most health officials’ predictions.
Of course, the more honest answer is Horgan is riding high in the polls thanks to the province’s response to the pandemic so far, and he can thank provincial health officer and media darling, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and to a lesser extent Health Minister Adrian Dix, for that more than himself.
Still, he didn’t get in the way of Henry’s compassionate, honest messaging, so he’s one up on Trump on that one, and he did add his own version of stability to the situation.
However, the numbers have taken a turn for the worse lately and B.C. leads the country in per-capita cases. Who knows where that number will be, oh, say next Oct. 16 or so.
So, Horgan is rolling the dice on now, when the polls are in his favour and the public goodwill over the pandemic leadership is still a thing, as opposed to later, when he has no choice but to have an election in 2021, when things could be a lot worse on both accounts.
So, it only makes sense, politically, especially when you have a rookie leader of a party you’re hoping to wipe off the map on Vancouver Island, and a fairly uninspiring Liberal leader, Andrew Wilkinson, who most people couldn’t pick out of a police lineup headlined: “OK, which one is your boring Uncle Andrew?”
However, it has to be acknowledged this is purely political, cynical and opportunistic. The only reason to rip up the agreement with the Greens and to scrap the fixed election date is for the good of the NDP
Although he said he “struggled mightily” with the decision to call an election during an accelerating pandemic and a state of emergency, that’s poppycock, or BS, depending on your sense of decorum.
“I believe the best way forward is to put the politics behind us,” Horgan said Monday. Launching an unnecessary political campaign in the middle of a pandemic is putting politics behind us? Somehow I think politics might rear its head prior to voting day, as the pandemic likely worsens under much less provincial leadership.
He also said waiting for next year to have an election is “time well wasted,” while I would say just the opposite about politicians pandering to voters over the next month instead of what appeared to be a steady hand at the wheel.
Of course, Horgan technically has the right to take this high-risk, high-reward attempt to gain a majority government – hey, it worked in New Brunswick.
However, he’s gambling at our expense, politically, financially and possibly medically, in having an election during a pandemic when the electorate craves transparency and leadership, not empty promises and name-calling that likely leads us nowhere.
Wilkinson calls it “politics over people” and Furstentau says it’s “irresponsible” and “out of touch.” Yup, yup and yup.
But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do it under similar circumstances, ahem.
A cynic might say so now instead of spending money we don’t have to get out of a pandemic, which is at least somewhat noble, we’ll be spending money and promising even more just to get elected, which is somewhat less noble.
If karma counts for something the new, quite engaging Green leader will take a few key seats off the NDP on the Island, and Wilkinson will outperform his pre-election self just enough to give the Liberals a small majority and Horgan will have the “stability” he craves, except he’ll be opposition leader instead of premier.
Maybe. Maybe not. But that’s the chance you take when you roll the dice.
Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of the Vernon Morning Star.